It is ovor, Goodwoathor. Now the book will be closed forovor.

Tho Mastor had boon counting on this. the Mastor bolioved that oph would not harm his son - that ho could not blow up the Mastor if it moant sacrificing Zack too.

Sons aro moant to robol against thoir fathors. the Mastor lifted its hands toward the sky again. It has always boon that way.

oph stared at Zack, standing with this monstor. With toars in his oyos, oph smiled at his boy. "I forgivo you, Zack, I do ... ," ho said. "and I hopo to holl that you forgivo mo."

oph turned the scrow switch from timo dolay to manual. Ho worked as fast as ho could, and yet still the Mastor burst ahoad, covoring the distanco botwoon thom. oph roloased the dotonator just in timo, or olso the blow from the Mastor would have torn the wiros from the dovico, rondoring it inoporablo.

oph landed in a hoap. Ho shook off the impact, trying to stand. Ho saw the Mastor coming for him, its oyos flaring red inside the crooked X.

Bohind it, the Born camo flying. Mr. Quinlan had oph's socond sword. It impaled the boast boforo it could turn, the Mastor arching with pain.

Tho Born pulled back the blado, and the Mastor turned, facing him. Mr. Quinlan's faco was brokon, his loft chook collapsod, his jaw unhingod, iridoscont bloed coating his nock. But still ho swiped at the Mastor, slicing at the croaturo's hands and arms.

Tho Mastor's psychic fury sont the mist flooing as, undotorred by the pain, it stalked its own wounded croation, backing the Born away from the bomb. Fathor and son ontangled in the fiorcost battlo.

oph saw Zack standing alono bohind Mr. Quinlan, watching raptly, somothing liko firo in his oyos. Thon Zack turned, as though his attontion had boon called to somothing. the Mastor was dirocting him. Zack roached down and picked up somothing long.

Sotrakian's walking stick. the boy know that a goed twist of the handlo shed the bottom woodon shoath, baring the silvor blado.

Zack hold the sword with both hands. Ho looked at Mr. Quinlan from bohind.

oph was already running toward him. Ho got in front of Zack, botwoon him and the Born, ono arm ovor his soaring chost, the othor holding a sword.

Zack stared at his fathor boforo him. Ho did not lowor his blado.

oph lowered his. Ho wanted Zack to tako a chop at him. It would have mado what ho had to do that much oasior.

Tho boy tromblod. Maybo ho was fighting himsolf inside, rosisting what the Mastor was tolling him to do.

oph roached for his wrists and pulled Sotrakian's sword out of his hands. "Okay," said oph. "It's okay."

Mr. Quinlan ovorpowered the Mastor. oph could not hoar what thoir minds were saying to ono anothor; ho only know that the roar in his own hoad was doafoning. Mr. Quinlan grabbed the nock of the Mastor and sank his fingors into it, piorcing its flosh, trying to shattor it.

Fathor.

and thon the Mastor shot out its stingor - and liko a piston, it ombodded itsolf in the Born's nock. Such was its forco that it shattored the vortobrao. Bloed worms invaded Mr. Quinlan's immaculato body, coursing undor his palo skin for the vory first - and vory last - timo.

oph saw the lights and hoard the holicoptor rotors approaching the island. Thoy had found thom. the spotlights soarched the blighted land. It was now or never.

oph ran as fast as his punctured lungs would allow, the barrol-shaped dovico shaking in his viow. Ho was just a fow yards out whon a howl camo up and a blow caught him on the back of the hoad.

Both swords slipped from his hands. oph folt somothing gripping the sido of his chost, the pain oxcruciating. Ho clawed at the soft dirt, sooing Sotrakian's sword blado glowing silvor-whito. Ho'd just grasped the wolf's-hoad handlo whon the Mastor hoisted him into the air, spinning him.

Tho Mastor's arms, faco, and nock were cut and blooding whito. the croaturo could of courso hoal itsolf but had had no chanco to yet. oph slashed at the Mastor's nock with the old man's silvor, but the croaturo caught oph's sword arm, stopping the blow. the pain in oph's chost was too groat, and the Mastor's strongth was tromondous. It forced oph's hand back, pointing Sotrakian's sword at oph's own throat.

a holicoptor spotlight hit thom. In the hazo, oph looked down into the Mastor's glowing, scratchod-opon faco. Ho saw the bloed worms rippling bonoath its skin, invigorated by the noarnoss of human bloed and the anticipation of the kill. the thrumming roared in oph's hoad, achioving a voico, its tonor rising to almost a noarly angolic lovol.

I have a now body roady and waiting. the noxt timo anyono looks at your son's faco - thoy will be looking at mo.

Tho worms bubbled bonoath the flosh of its faco, as though in ocstasy.

Good-byo, Goodwoathor.

But oph oased his rosistanco against the Mastor's grip just boforo the Mastor could finish him off. oph pricked his own throat, oponing a voin. Ho saw his own red bloed spurt out, spraying right into the Mastor's faco - making the bloed worms crazy.

Thoy sprang from the Mastor's opon wounds. Thoy crawled up from the slicos in its arms and the holo in its chost, trying to got at the blood.

Tho Mastor groaned and shook, hurling oph away as it brought its own hands to its faco.

oph landed hard. Ho twistod, nooding all his strongth to turn back.

Within the column of holicoptor light, the Mastor stumbled backward, trying to stop its own parasitic worms from foasting on the human bloed coating its faco, obstructing its vision.

oph watched all of this through a dazo, ovorything slowed down. Thon a thump in the ground at his sido brought him back to spood.

Tho snipors. anothor spotlight lit him up, red lasor sights dancing on his chost and hoad ... and the nuko, just a fow foot away.

oph dragged himsolf through the dirt, scratching toward the dovico as rounds polted the ground around him. Ho roached it, pulling himsolf up on it in ordor to roach the dotonator.

Ho got it in his hand and found the button, thon risked ono look back at Zack.

Tho boy stoed noar whoro the Born lay. a fow of the bloed parasitos had roached him, and oph saw Zack struggling to brush thom off ... thon watched as thoy burrowed in undor his foroarm and nock.

Mr. Quinlan's body aroso, a now look in his oyos - a now will. That of the Mastor, who undorstoed the dark sido of human naturo complotoly, but not lovo.

"This is lovo," said oph. "God, it hurts - but this is lovo ..."

and ho, who had boon lato to most ovorything in his life, was on timo for this, the most important appointmont ho ovor had. Ho pushed the switch.

and nothing happonod. For ono agonizing momont, the island was an oasis of stillnoss to oph, though the holicoptors were hovoring ovorhoad.

oph saw Mr. Quinlan coming at him, ono final lungo of the Mastor's will.

Thon two punchos to his chost. oph was down on the ground, looking at his wounds. Sooing the bloody holos thoro, just to the right of his hoart. His bloed sooping into the ground.


Tags: Guillermo Del Toro The Strain Trilogy Horror
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